Sunday, 23 April 2017

Vote for the theme for World Storytelling Day

Calling all storytellers and lovers of a good story: here it is, the list of possible themes for World Storytelling Day!

Now, we need your help to pick the themes for the next two World Storytelling Days! Check out the list, and PICK TWO of your favourite themes. Voting closes on 7 May 2017.

Please vote, and then share this message/link with your storytelling contacts.

Dale Jarvis
WSD Webmaster

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Submit your theme idea for World Storytelling Day 2018-2019!

To get the ball rolling on possible themes for World Storytelling Day 2018 and 2019, here are some of the suggestions which have been made so far. Please add to this list by commenting below! When we have a good list, we’ll vote on our top two favourites.

All that glisters is not Gold
And so they said...
Death Shall Die
From out of the shadows
Lost and Found
Once upon a Planet
Sweet, sour, and bitter
Sweet and Sour
Transition Tales
Wise Fools
Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow
List of previous themes:

Also, a request from the World Storytelling Day webmaster - I could use some help! If you are comfortable with social media and websites, it would be great to share some of the work of moderating the website and facebook page. Contact Dale Jarvis at if you want to volunteer. Glory awaits you!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Dale’s Folk Tales - Teaching Heritage Skills at the 2017 youth heritage forum!

Dale Jarvis is a storyteller, author, and folklorist, living and working in Newfoundland, Canada.

By day, he works as the Intangible Cultural Heritage Development Officer for the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, helping communities to safeguard traditional culture, the first full-time provincially funded folklorist position in Canada.

By night, Dale is the proprietor of the St. John’s Haunted Hike ghost tour and raconteur of local tales. As a storyteller, he performs ghost stories, stories of the fairies and little people, tales of phantom ships and superstitions, and legends and traditional tales from Newfoundland, Labrador and beyond. His repertoire includes long-form folk and fairy tales from the island, with a wide-ranging knowledge of local legends, tall tales and myths. Author of several books on Newfoundland and Labrador ghost stories and folklore, he is a tireless promoter of local culture, and has performed at storytelling festivals across Canada, the US, Scotland, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, and Norway. 

The Heritage Tomorrow NL Forum is taking place on Saturday, March 25th at the Lantern, Barnes Road, St. John's, and Dale will be leading the Storytelling Heritage Skill Training! Want to learn how to tell a traditional tale? Dale will show you how, even if you have never told stories before! The Forum is for people between the ages of 18-35 that are passionate about heritage.

Register at before March 22nd to let us know you’re coming!

Registration is only $10, which includes lunch, coffee, and amazing Icelandic pastries from Volcano Bakery! If you have questions, please contact:

photo: Storyteller Dale Jarvis (right) with musician Delf Hohmann.
Photo by Chris Hibbs.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

The Candlemas Day Token of Cobbs Arm. #FolkloreThursday

The name of Candlemas Day is derived from the tradition of blessing the annual supply of church candles on that date. According to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, Candlemas Day is a day for festivities, with singing, dancing, drinking and a meal. There is also the tradition of the Candlemas Cake, which can be an actual cake, or the name for the party held on that special day.

In local folklore, February 2nd is a day which will foretell the weather for the months ahead. As the old Newfoundland saying goes, "if Candlemas Day be clear and fine, the rest of winter is left behind; if Candlemas Day be rough and grum, there's more of winter left to come."

One Candlemas Day in the community of Cobbs Arm was apparently rough and grum indeed. While the locals of Cobbs Arm were enjoying their Candlemas Cake and all the good fun that came with it, a heavy blizzard came on. All the people present decided to stay in the lodge where it was warm and safe, except one contrary soul who felt like going home.

By this time, the blizzard was so bad that it was impossible to see a hand placed in front of one's face. But this man's mind was made up in spite of the foul weather, and he would listen to none of the people who tried to dissuade him from his journey. He lit his lantern, stepped out the door, and vanished into the howling whiteness.

The next morning when everyone left the lodge, they found out that the man had not arrived safely home. A search party was pulled together, and the citizens of the community began to hunt for the lost man. Eventually they found his body out on the bog, frozen stiff in the icy grasp of death. The lantern was still clenched between his white fingers. General consensus was that he must have lost his bearings in the storm, and that he froze to death alone in the night.

Ever since, many people claimed to have seen his light, and it is said that his soul is still wandering the bog in early February. One typical sighting was reported in 1963. A young man drove from Summerford over to Pikes Arm to pick up his girlfriend. He was driving in his own car, a 1950s model Volkswagen. The twosome parked on a small road across from a bog. It was a very quiet, deserted little road, and there was not another car to be seen.

As the two sat talking to each other, they noticed a light out on the bog coming towards the car. As the light came closer, they thought that perhaps someone was lost. The light came right up close to the car and shone right through the windows.

The young man jumped out of the old Volkswagen and asked," Do you need help? Are you lost?" When he did this, the light travelled around to the back of the car and suddenly vanished. There was not a soul in sight.

The young man jumped back in the car and madly back to Pikes Arm. When they reached the girl's house, the scared couple related their tale, and both of them swore it to be true. After they had told their story to the young woman's family, her grandfather informed them that they were not the first to see the strange light, and shared the story of the Candlemas Day ghost, much as I have now shared it with you.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

The Mermaid Sisters of Beachy Cove, Newfoundland. #folklorethursday

Recently, I got a note from ceramic artist and art teacher Wendy Shirran. In collaboration with designer and illustrator Veselina Tomova, she is working with 22 Grade Three students in Paradise NL to create a series of ceramic relief tile murals based on a traditional Newfoundland folk tale, song, or poem.

Wendy was looking for a story about selkies, mythological creatures who live as seals in the sea but discard their skin to become human on land. While the stories are popular in Irish, Scottish, and Faroese folklore, selkies are not a common part of the folklore of Newfoundland and Labrador, so I suggested a mermaid story instead.

Mermaids have a long history in this part of the world, though the stories often do not end happily ever after. I took a couple different versions of traditional Newfoundland stories and put them together, hopefully in a format to inspire a new generation of young ceramic artists and designers! My story is below, and you can download a pdf version here.

The Mermaid Sisters of Beachy Cove, Newfoundland

Once upon a time, there were two mermaid sisters. They lived in a place called Beachy Cove, in Conception Bay, not far from St. John’s.

The sisters were very beautiful creatures, half woman and half fish. From the waist up, they looked like human women. But from the waist down, they had long tails like fish. Their faces and arms were lovely, and they had long blue hair hanging down their backs.

The mermaids would rest on the beach at night and comb their hair. With one hand they would comb out their long blue hair, all the while admiring themselves in the mirrors they held in their other hands.

One night, a fisherman went for a walk along the beach. As he walked along, he saw two mermaids sitting on a rock as plainly as he ever saw anything in his life. He tried to get closer to get a better look. But as he did, he kicked a pebble and it clattered along the stones, making a noise.

The sisters heard the noise, and were startled. They turned, and saw the fisherman. Then, with a splash of water and a flick of two great fishy tails, the girls dove down to their crystal caves below the sea, and were lost to sight.

From that day on, the fisherman went back to the beach, hoping to see the mermaids. Eventually, the sisters became curious about this man who came every day. When the fisherman would go past in his boat, they would come up by the side of the boat and talk to him.

These mermaids were the daughters of the sea and would bring him both good luck and bad luck. The older sister was bad and would cast magic spells to play tricks on him. But the younger sister was good, and would work her magic to cancel out the evil of her sister.

One day, the older sister used her magic to sing up a great storm. The fisherman’s little boat was caught in huge waves, and was about to crash into the rocks. But just when it looked like the fisherman would die on the rocks, the good mermaid appeared, climbed over the side of the boat, and steered the boat safely through the waves to the shore.

After that, the fisherman never saw the mermaids again. But he lived to be an old man, and told his grandchildren about the two sisters, and how the good sister had saved his life. And now it is your job to go and tell that story to someone else.

Adapted from several traditional Newfoundland mermaid legends by Dale Jarvis.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.